Photography greats to be celebrated at new festival

June 13, 2016

Four gentlemen golfers in a Car, St Andrews, 1904, by John Fairweather
[Image from the Cowie Collection, courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library]

St Andrews will play host to a six-week-long festival of events and exhibitions, revealing ‘rare, historic images’ and focusing on the earliest days of photography and Scottish documentary work from the past 175 years.

‘We are one of the most photographed and filmed towns in the world, yet few realise much of the technology that we enjoy the benefits of today began with the work of a collection of photographic pioneers who lived and worked in St Andrews in the 1800s,’ said Alistair Lang, chairman of BID [Business Improvement District] St Andrews, which is helping to organise the event.

Among the town’s most celebrated pioneers is Dr John Adamson, who is the subject of a blue plaque at his former home in the town’s South Street – now The Adamson Restaurant.

‘Many other names are to be celebrated for the role they played, including Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, David Octavius Hill… Thomas Rodger and Sir David Brewster,’ organisers explained.

Dr John Adamson’s home on South Street, St Andrews, 1862. By John Adamson.

Dr John Adamson’s home on South Street, St Andrews, 1862

[By John Adamson, courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library]

Images drawn from the University of St Andrews Library Special Collections will be exhibited alongside contemporary work.

There will also be workshops on historic processes, such as calotype and collodion, one on street photography, plus tours and seminars and a Victorian Tintype Studio.

One exhibition, for example, will be dedicated to Thomas Rodger, who set up the first purpose-built photographic studio in St Andrews in 1849.

Allan Robertson, St Andrews, 1850. By Thomas Rodger.

Allan Robertson, St Andrews, 1850, by Thomas Rodger

Up to 15 local businesses, including cafés and restaurants, are expected to stage exhibitions.

Lang added: ‘The festival includes indoor and outdoor venues – making use of the town’s stunning setting and landscape to showcase work and engage with photographers of all ages.

‘It will also provide an opportunity for businesses across the town to get involved and interact with customers in new ways.’

For details, visit the festival’s Facebook page at

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